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01 May Current Affairs

Mekong River

The Mekong, or Mekong River, is a trans-boundary river in Southeast Asia.

It is the world’s twelfth longest river and the seventh longest in Asia.

Its estimated length is 4,350 km (2,703 mi), and it drains an area of 795,000 km2.

From the Tibetan Plateau the river runs through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

The extreme seasonal variations in flow and the presence of rapids and waterfalls in the Mekong make navigation difficult.

The river is a major trade route between western China and Southeast Asia.

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) is an inter-governmental organization that works directly with the governments of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam to jointly manage the shared water resources and the sustainable development of the Mekong River.

China is building a dam in Lancang River, upper half of Mekong River.

Yarlung Tsangpo

In News:

The Yarlung Tsangpo, is the longest river of Tibet Autonomous Region, China.

Details:

It originates at Angsi Glacier in western Tibet, southeast of Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar.

It is the upper stream of the Brahmaputra River.

Downstream from Arunachal Pradesh the river becomes far wider and is called the Siang.

After reaching Assam, the river is known as Brahmaputra.

From Assam, the river enters Bangladesh, from there until about 200 years ago it used to flow eastward and joined the Meghna River, this old channel has been gradually dying.

At present the main channel of the river is called Jamuna River, which flows southward to meet Ganges, which in Bangladesh is called the Padma.

When leaving the Tibetan Plateau, the River forms the world’s largest and deepest canyon, Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon.

India has long expressed concerns over dam-building on the Brahmaptura.

In 2015, China operationalized its first hydropower project at Zangmu, while three other dams at Dagu, Jiexu and Jiacha are being developed.

Indian officials have said the dams are not likely to impact the quantity of the Brahmaputra’s flows because they are only storing water for power generation.

Moreover, the Brahmaputra is not entirely dependent on upstream flows and an estimated 35% of its basin is in India.

India does not have a water-sharing agreement with China, but both sides share hydrological data.

Labour Day or International Workers’ Day

In News:

It is observed each year on the first day of May to celebrate achievements of the working class. The day, also called as ‘May Day’, is also observed as a public holiday in many countries.

Details:

  • Labour Day is a public holiday in India as well, where it is celebrated as Antarrashtriya Shramik Diwas (International Labour Day).

Significance of International Labour Day:

  • The day has its origins in the labour union movement, particularly the eight-hour day movement, which supports eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest
  • During the Cold War, May Day became intermittent for large military parades in Red Square by the Soviet Union and was attended by the top leaders of the Kremlin, especially the Politburo, atop Lenin’s Tomb. It became an enduring symbol of that period.

History behind International Labour Day:

  • The first May Day celebrations focused on workers took place on May 1st 1890 after its proclamation by the first international congress of socialist parties in Europe on July 14th 1889 in Paris, France, to dedicate May 1 every year as the “Workers Day of International Unity and Solidarity.”
  • The date was chosen due to events on the other side of the Atlantic. In 1884 the American Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions demanded an eight-hour workday, to come in effect as of May 1st 1886.
  • This resulted in the general strike and the Haymarket (in Chicago) Riot of 1886, but eventually also in the official sanction of the eight-hour workday.
  • The date was chosen for International Workers’ Day by the Second International to commemorate the Haymarket affair, which occurred in Chicago on May 4, 1886.

(In Chicago, on May 4, 1886, a bomb blast killed seven police officers and four civilians.

The dynamite blast was a reply to the killings of peaceful demonstrators by police the day before. After the bombing, eight anarchists were convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to death. The case shaped international headlines because the indication suggested that none of those eight men had thrown the bomb.

Three years later, a French socialist party created an international day to honour the labour movement and marked May 1 in commemoration of the Haymarket Massacre)

Labour Act in India:

  • In India, the Child Labour Act of 1986, which prohibited employing people below 14 years, was directed towards achieving better labour standards and to ensure there was no abuse or maltreatment of children by industries.

International Labour day in India:

  • The first May Day celebration in India was organised in Madras (now Chennai) by the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan on May 1, 1923. This was also the time when the red flag was first used in India.
  • It should be noted that May 1 is also celebrated as ‘Maharashtra Day’ and ‘Gujarat Day’ to mark the date in 1960, when the two western states attained statehood after the erstwhile Bombay State was divided on linguistic lines.

National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP)

In News:

The Task Force on National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) submitted its Final Report on NIP for FY 2019-25 to the Union Minister for Finance.

About:

The Final Report of NIP Task Force is projecting total infrastructure investment of Rs 111 lakh crore during the period FY 2020-25. Out of Rs. 111 lakh crore,

projects worth Rs 44 lakh crore (40% of NIP) are under implementation,

projects worth Rs 33 lakh crore (30%) are at conceptual stage,

projects worth Rs 22 lakh crore (20%) are under development.

Information regarding project stage are unavailable for projects worth Rs 11 lakh crore (10%).

Sectors such as energy (24%), roads (18%), urban (17%) and railways (12%) amount to around 71% of the projected infrastructure investments in India.

The Centre (39%) and States (40%) are expected to have almost equal share in implementing the NIP in India, followed by the private sector (21%).

The Task Force has recommended that three Committees be setup:

Committee to monitor NIP progress and eliminate delays;

Steering Committee in each Infrastructure ministry level for following up implementation; and

Steering Committee in DEA for raising financial resources for the NIP.

The NIP project database would be hosted on India Investment Grid (IIG) shortly to provide visibility to the NIP and help in its financing with prospective investors; domestic and foreign, able to access updated project level information.

National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET)

In News:

The Supreme Court held that the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) is mandatory for admission to medical colleges run by religious and linguistic minority communities.

Key highlights of the judgement:

Admissions solely through NEET for graduate and postgraduate medical/dental courses does not violate any fundamental and religious rights of minorities. NEET would apply for both aided and unaided medical colleges run by minorities.

The rights available under Article 30 [right of minorities to administer their institutions] are not violated by provisions carved out in Section 10D of the MCI Act and the Dentists Act and Regulations framed by MCI/DCI.

The rights of trade, business and occupation or religious rights “do not come in the way of securing transparency and recognition of merits in admissions”.

The right to freedom of trade or business is not absolute. It is subject to “reasonable restriction in the interest of the students’ community to promote merit, recognition of excellence, and to curb the malpractices.

Regulating academics and imposing reasonable restrictions to ensure educational standards are in national and public interest.

NEET is intended to check several maladies which crept into medical education, to prevent capitation fee by admitting students which are lower in merit and to prevent exploitation, profiteering, and commercialisation of education.

A uniform entrance test qualifies the test of proportionality and is reasonable.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

In News:

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) region is expected to post a 2.7 per cent economic decline in 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19.

Details:

This will be the most significant fall since the near-zero growth rate logged in 2009 during the global financial crisis.

The region’s unemployment rate is projected to rise to 5.4 per cent in 2020 from 3.8 per cent in 2019, or an additional 23.5 million workers being unemployed in 2020.

Economic rebound:

An economic rebound is a forecast for 2021, with the anticipated growth of 6.3 per cent, higher than the projected global economic growth of 5.8 per cent.

This rebound, however, depends on the effectiveness of containment mechanisms to avoid a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as measures to stimulate the economy.

APEC:

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is a regional economic forum established in 1989 to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific.

Aim: to create greater prosperity for the people of the region by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth and by accelerating regional economic integration.

Functions:

APEC works to help all residents of the Asia-Pacific participate in the growing economy. APEC projects provide digital skills training for rural communities and help indigenous women export their products abroad.

Recognizing the impacts of climate change, APEC members also implement initiatives to increase energy efficiency and promote sustainable management of forest and marine resources.

The forum adapts to allow members to deal with important new challenges to the region’s economic well-being. This includes ensuring disaster resilience, planning for pandemics, and addressing terrorism.

Members:

APEC’s 21 member economies are Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Canada; Chile; People’s Republic of China; Hong Kong, China; Indonesia; Japan; Republic of Korea; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Peru; The Philippines; The Russian Federation; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; United States of America; Viet Nam.

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